5 best left-backs in Europe right now

Jim Beglin

Alphonso Davies | Bayern Munich, Canada

FC Bayern Muenchen v FC Augsburg - Bundesliga
FC Bayern Muenchen v FC Augsburg - Bundesliga

Alphonso Davies is the kid, the baby of the lot and arguably the fastest footballer on the planet currently. He can take your breath away with his electrifying pace and has a penetration that only few can match in the modern game. Once he sets off on one of his trademark runs, you’re excited and entertained, so I just find him great fun to watch. I once referred to him as Alphonso Messi - he was absolutely on fire for Bayern Munich that night and tore through opposition defenders like they didn’t exist!

For a 20-year-old, he has an awful lot to learn. If he can improve his end product, he can fulfill his absolutely wondrous potential for Bayern Munich and Canada. I don’t think there are too many prospects better than him, certainly not at left-back, but he can reach a level of superstardom if he works on his ability in the final third.

When he’s on his game and manages to mold everything together in his head, he’s unstoppable. Davies is one of those players who can get the whole stadium at the edge of their seats, that’s how good and exciting he is. One thing defenders will tell you is they hate coming up again pace even if they are quite quick themselves. Davies has plenty of pace in his armor and can utilize it for many years to come.

I hope injuries leave him alone for the rest of his career so that he can continue to develop the wonderful start he’s had in Europe.

Luke Shaw | Manchester United, England

Leeds United v Manchester United - Premier League
Leeds United v Manchester United - Premier League

I don’t want to make this a big talking point, but Luke Shaw has had to come through quite a bit in his young career so far. He had to manage all that nonsense he got from Jose Mourinho, who, in my opinion, belittled Shaw by going public with his criticism. If you slag your players off publicly, it creates a bit of unrest in the dressing room.

Shaw has been diplomatic in hitting back at Jose and I admire him for the way he’s responded to the situation. Some of the things that were said about him could’ve sunk him and crushed his spirit, but he’s used his anger as a stepping stone to show what he can do for club and country. All the insecurity and the naivety would’ve troubled him as a young footballer, because it’s never nice to receive adversity from your own coach.

He had a tremendous season with Manchester United and followed it up with a fantastic showing for England at Euro 2020. It took a while, but he’s finally found his niche and has been hugely impressive in what he’s accomplished over the past 12 months or so. I like his story - he’s come out on top after overcoming his fair share of obstacles and is thriving at the moment.

I don’t know if Mourinho will claim to have played his part in Shaw's renaissance, but he was a big negative for the Englishman. I didn’t want to take this route but it is part of Shaw’s story and it goes without saying that it shouldn’t have happened. He broke his leg in a game against PSV Eindhoven a few years back - that was a shocking injury that set him back. The incident makes Mourinho’s comments all the more crass and out of order, but that’s history now.

All in all, I’m delighted for Luke Shaw and the fact that he’s been able to overcome everything that’s been thrown at him. He’s up there on merit and will look to take his outstanding form into the new season for Manchester United.

Leonardo Spinazzola | AS Roma, Italy

Italy v England - UEFA Euro 2020: Final
Italy v England - UEFA Euro 2020: Final

Leonardo Spinazzola was a free-flowing joy to watch at Euro 2020 and made my Team of the Tournament, so he’s definitely amongst the best left-backs in the world at the moment. I’ve spoken about him in detail in my other columns and I have half a mind to ask the readers to refer to those, but I only have nice things to say about him!

He’s a very intelligent footballer in areas of the pitch that require imagination and has the footwork to make himself a menace in the final third. Spinazzola does it all with powerful running, good acceleration and tremendous commitment, as he gave Italy a formidable left-sided bias in the early weeks of Euro 2020. His relationship with Lorenzo Insigne was fantastic to watch and I remember watching them wreak havoc against Turkey in the group stages. Kenan Karaman, who played as a right-sided midfielder for Turkey on the night, was absolutely terrorized by Spinazzola, as he ripped the right-flank to shreds with a Man of the Match performance.

It’s a real shame about his injury, as he showed at the top level how wonderful he can be. He was thriving on the fact that you only need four good weeks of football to make an impression at a major tournament and played spectacularly well before his unfortunate setback. Spinazzola could’ve easily ended up as the Player of the Tournament at Euro 2020 had not picked up an injury and that is brilliant territory to be in, particularly for a left-back.

Also Read: Paul Merson column - 5 most underrated players in the Premier League

Edited by Vishal Subramanian
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